The Builders Merchants Federation says the government’s Autumn Statement missed an opportunity for genuine reform taxes.
BMF managing director, John Newcomb said: “It’s good news that the Chancellor remains committed to investing in housing, stressing that more has to be done to build new homes, continuing both Help to Buy and the new buy schemes, and making a £1bn available in new loans to un-block stalled social housing developments in the north. Housing is a key driver to economic recovery and it is vital that he follows through with this intent.
“We also welcome the confirmation of the freeze on increases in Fuel Duty before the May 2015 election – a vindication of the BMF’s campaigning efforts on behalf of merchants – and the extra £40,000 promised to fund a 20,000 increase in higher apprenticeships.
“However, the Chancellor missed an opportunity for genuine reform of property taxes. While we welcome the extension of business rates relief for smaller businesses for a further year, the Chancellor could have gone much further here. What’s needed is a freeze in business rates ahead of genuine reform property taxes and the government is wrong to defer the next business rate revaluation, which was due in 2015, for another two years until 2017.
The Autumn Statement included neither changes to stamp duty nor a shift in its position against extending the 5% VAT rate on certain energy-saving improvements. The BMF believes it is perverse to apply a 5% rate on energy consumption but the 20% standard rate for energy conservation.
“It was also disappointing that changes to environmental levies on energy bills, while lowering domestic energy costs, will also reduce the improvements in home insulation currently offered through the Energy Company Obligation,” Newcomb said.
“This will undoubtedly hit the insulation industry. Many industry voices have condemned this and while so much of our housing stock still needs upgrading it seems a very shortsighted move.”